HR Strange But True!
November 07, 2008

Bosses don't just have power; they feel it, according to a recent study that concludes that the best way to persuade superiors may be to meet them out of their physical power zones.

The study from Ohio State University, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, included role-playing experiments using OSU students that showed that people in positions of power have innate confidence in their own opinions. To influence them, you must make them feel less powerful just before they receive your message.

Students participating in the study assumed roles of bosses and employees. When they were in the power position, students were very confident in their opinions and less likely to be persuaded or even listen to arguments offered in fake commercials. The "powerless employees," on the other hand, were more easily swayed by the commercials.

So, notes study co-author Professor Richard Petty, if you want a raise and have solid reasons why you should get one, don't bring up the subject in your boss's office, where he or she is "surrounded by the trappings of power." Instead, suggests Petty, bring up the subject in a neutral place such as a meeting room or the lunchroom "where there aren't reminders of who is in charge."

"You want to sow all your arguments when the boss is not thinking of his power, and after you make the case, then remind the boss of his power" to reaffirm the positive evaluation and encourage the boss to follow through," Petty explains.

Source: Ohio State University

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